Going vegetarian or vegan could be a new year’s resolution for many, with vegetarianism increasing in popularity almost everyone tries it at least once. Some people do it for health reasons, some do it because they love animals and the planet. Either way, at least trying it is a great choice. At least 5% of American adults are vegetarian and with a popular uprise in going vegetarian, making the switch is easier than it seems.
Going vegetarian can really benefit your health. Vegetarian diets have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer, leading to a longer life expectancy. It can also lead to weight loss. Just by cutting out red meat your body will have a better pH balance because red meat is an acid-forming food, which in turn helps your skin improve, especially if you start eating more produce. You will lower your risk for certain cancers, as well as obesity and diabetes. In a study from 2012, conducted by Dr. Frank Hu showed that out of the 37,000 men and over 83,000 women, almost 24,000 participants died during the study, including about 5,900 from cardiovascular disease and about 9,500 from cancer. Those who consumed the highest levels of both unprocessed and processed red meat had the highest risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Cutting out meat can also help our dying planet. A vegetarian diet requires two-and-a-half times less the amount of land needed to grow food, compared to a meat-based diet. Humans eat about 230m tons of animals such as chickens, cows, sheep and pigs a year, twice as much as we did 30 years ago. All animals need vast amounts of food and water, emit methane and other greenhouse gases and produce mountains of physical waste. Livestock’s contribution to climate change can be calculated to 5-10% of global emissions. Nearly 30% of the available ice-free surface area of the planet is now used by livestock, or for growing food for those animals. One billion people go hungry every day, but livestock now consumes the majority of the world’s crops. Going vegetarian doesn’t take a lot of effort or time, but it could save us and the planet.